A gunman opened fire Wednesday in a busy hair salon, killing eight people and critically wounding another while leaving bodies scattered throughout the business in a normally sedate Southern California beach community.
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The gunman got into a car and drove away from Salon Meritage after opening fire about 1:30 p.m. He was stopped by officers about a half-mile away and surrendered without incident, said police Sgt. Steve Bowles.
Police were struggling to determine the motive for the killings. “There may be something to the motive as to a relationship with somebody in the salon, that is our assumption,” police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.
Police Sgt. Steve Bowles said bodies of the victims were scattered throughout the salon, along with two of the wounded. The other wounded person, a man, was found outside the building. It wasn’t clear if he was trying to flee when he was shot or if he was the one survivor. “We’re unsure at this point if he shot from the entrance and people, as they were shot, ran in seeking cover or seeking shelter, but we have fatalities throughout the salon,” Bowles told reporters at a news conference outside the business.
Police officers stand with a man who was being held in a patrol car at the scene of the arrest of a suspect near the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, Calif., where a shooting left eight people dead.
The killings stunned this normally quiet community of about 25,000 that boasts on its website that it has “retained its quaint, small-town atmosphere” since it was founded in 1915. Several visibly distressed people stood near the scene talking on cellphones or to police shortly after the shootings.
The quiet beachfront city is home to Leisure World, a gated senior citizen community of 9,000 people, as well as the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station military complex. Two-thirds of the city’s 13.23 square miles are occupied by the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.
The most common crime reported in Seal Beach last year was larceny, with 368 cases reported. There were four rapes reported in 2010, up from two the previous year. There were six robberies, up from 11 the previous year, and 71 assaults, down from 89 the previous year.